By Fred Topel | Image property of respective holders
Paramount finally starts reaching back into their classic catalog (as in pre-The Godfather) for Blu Ray. They don’t quite go all Warner Brothers on The African Queen (see how great Gone with the Wind looks), but they do a respectable job with their classic.
African Queen on Blu-Ray
You do see grain in The African Queen but it’s an authentic kind. It was shot on film so you can forgive the artifacts of that technology. The grains are smaller than actual film grains, so it’s sort of a digital representation of it. It’s totally sharp, so you can see the crisp lines of the mise en scene, whether it’s actors on a boat or the riverside.
In this clarity, you do see lots of detail in the wardrobe, the set and props on the boat, and the natural environment. The colors pop like old Technicolor too, the lush green foliage surrounding the river and the golden skin tones they all had in those movies.
Some of the swampier scenes look a bit muddier but what can you do? It was never pretty. The studio shots hold up. You might know intellectually that it’s rear projection, but the disparity between footage and foreground is minimal.